I was sitting in the kitchen with my mom just after she moved here in Sep 2015. She was talking about how my grandmother who had just passed away that year, had such a good life until her late 90s when dementia took over. My mom's eyes got all teary, but she shrugged it off as "something in the air". I knew then that she really was missing her mom, but rather than pursuing it, I let it drop. What a mistake. Why couldn't we have a conversation about what it is like to grieve more deeply that you ever expected? That month, one of my friends lost her mother so I said something nice in response on Facebook. Then another friend lost her mother the following month, so I sent a card. The next month it happened again, so another card. Then my mom unexpectedly passed away in Nov of complications following open heart surgery. The shock was profound and I entered a deep state of mourning. Even when surrounded by family who had also lost their moms, we didn't really talk about how it felt. The departure of more friends wives and moms continued at a rate of one or more a month for a whole year. I became someone who "understood" and could be trusted with others feelings. I was also acutely aware of how hollow many common responses like "time heals all wounds" or "she is in a better place" sounded. I wrote much more personal and heartfelt comforting words to others and they were all hand written in a card. My friends wrote me back to say that it helped.
Each year we face the anniversaries of death, mother's days, birthdays, Christmas and weddings without them. There is a real sense of apprehension, sadness and then relief as each date passes. I realized that although was my grief was still pretty private, it really helped when a friend remembered my loss in this special club of friends without our moms. If we can't sit around a village campfire to deal with this try to be aware of others who may need to be comforted.